*The entertainment and media industry yields nearly $150 billion in annual revenues, and stands to gain an additional $10 billion, simply by addressing on-going racial inequities within the industry.
Creative projects led by Black talent have been undervalued, and underfunded by the industry despite proving profitable ROI’s. Black talent also is underrepresented across the industry, particularly off-screen, and the share of Black off-screen talent has not improved over the past 15 years. For these reasons and more, researchers from McKinsey & Company have launched a significant study on racial equity in the film and television sector. Their research reveals numerous hidden barriers Black talent face on-screen and off-screen.
McKinsey complied data on more than 2,000 films and interviewed writers, directors, producers, agents, actors, and executives. They collaborated with the BlackLight Collective, a coalition of Black executives and talent in the industry. McKinsey’s research found less than six percent of Hollywood film writers, and directors are Black. Additionally, Black professionals hold very few executive level positions throughout the industry.
Black professionals both on and off screen are often forced to pay what’s called the “Black Tax.” This calls for fighting for rights others are freely given, and advocating for racial equality on their own which distracts from time an energy that could be better spend honing their professional skills and craft. Research shows that 87% of TV executives and 92% of film executives are white. Their research also found aspiring Black actors receive significantly less at-bats and chances to make a mark in career defining roles than white actors. In the first 10 years of working, Black actors receive an average of six leading roles, while their white counterparts receive ten.
Mckinsey suggests a four step action plan to get the industry closer to racial equity. They are challenging streaming companies, studios, agencies, and other industry players to ensure diverse representation amongst all talent, increase transparency and accountability, seek and financially support diverse Black stories, and collaborate and create an industry wide independent advocacy organization to coordinate action.
Additional information from McKinsey & Company’s on-going research can be found at McKinsey.com.